Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Leyland: Not my fault Rays' Longoria isn't an All-Star

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ST. PETERSBURG — American League/Detroit manager Jim Leyland said it wasn't his fault Rays star 3B Evan Longoria didn't make the All-Star team.

Leyland, speaking Monday on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio, said to blame the fans and players who did the voting, and the structure of the 34-man All-Star rosters.

"Well, Evan Longoria was not voted on by the fans or the players," Leyland said. "And, you know, it is hard to take — I actually took three second basemen, and I'll get into that — but we would have taken three third basemen.

"Evan Longoria, I would have loved to have Evan Longoria on the team. Do I think he's an All-Star? Absolutely. I think he's one of the better players in the game. However, in this case this particular year, he was not voted by either the fans or the players so that pretty much hamstrung me."

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera was the overwhelming choice of the fans and players, and Baltimore's Manny Machado earned a spot by finishing second in the player vote. Longoria was fourth in the fan voting; no other results in the player voting are released. Leyland said he chose Rays 2B/RF Ben Zobrist as "the utility-type player" that the rosters are supposed to include, saying he "is a terrific pick."

And though he did select a third second baseman, adding Cleveland's Jason Kipnis with Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia already on the team, he said he did so more with the idea of him pinch-running for the DH, or pinch-hitting, than playing the field.

The Rays have yet to hear anything about the possibility of LHP Matt Moore being added to the roster as a replacement for one of three All-Stars scheduled to start Sunday.

"I am hopeful; I believe it is something that can happen," manager Joe Maddon said. "I'd have to believe Matt's got a pretty good shot under those circumstances. And it would be great."

COBB REPORT: With most of his symptoms gone and a second straight solid bullpen session completed, RHP Alex Cobb is starting to look ahead, eyeing a return to the Rays rotation as soon as late July or early August. "The timetable is obviously getting shorter for me, and that's exciting," Cobb said.

Rays officials will have the final say, of course, and they have not set any dates, even with Cobb, who was hit in the head by a line drive July 15.

Officially, all Cobb knows is that if he feels good today he will throw another bullpen session, likely Thursday. Then hopefully he'll advance to batting practice, throwing, initially, with a screen in front of him, then into some minor-league games.

"I am extremely anxious to get out there and face hitters," he said. "There's no concern in my mind right now that I'll be worried when I do face them. So I'd like to get out there as soon as possible."

Cobb said he feels "10 times better" overall than last week and his only issues are random moments of vertigo.

RHP Brandon Gomes felt good after his "first day of semi-long toss" since the June 27 setback in his return from a lat strain, hoping to start a rehab assignment during next week's All-Star break.

TAKING ONE: OF Wil Myers said he was more "kind of scared" than hurt when RF Chris Parmelee's throw hit him in the chest as he slid across the plate to score on a sac fly. "That was different,'' Myers said.

NUMBERS GAME: Ben Zobrist's two-run homer marked the first runs allowed by Twins LHP Caleb Thielbar after 17 scoreless appearances to start his career. … The Rays played their ninth straight errorless game, SS Yunel Escobar his 46th. … C Jose Molina had his first pickoff since July 2011.

MISCELLANY: Sun Sports is not showing Thursday's 12:10 game, so no local TV coverage. … LHP C.J. Riefenhauser will replace RHP Taylor Guerrieri at the All-Star Futures Game.

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